…Figuratively not literally of course!
When I read what Donna Cummings wrote about her work background, I couldn’t help but find myself humming a line from the lyrics to, That's Life by Frank Sinatra… I’ve been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn and a king...
Here is what she wrote; “I have worked as an attorney, winery tasting room manager, and retail business owner, but nothing beats the thrill of writing humorously-ever-after romances”. Tell me you didn’t find yourself humming too.
But honestly all jesting aside what an influential and motivating background it is. She lives in New England and fantasizing about spending the rest of her days in a tropical locale where she can wear flip flops all the time.
It’s however, her other fantasy that most intrigued me. That fantasy has to do with “living in Regency London, scandalizing the ton”. But since time travel has yet to be invented Cummings has taken matters into her own hands, literally by putting pen to that fantasy in her writing. What a clever girl!
I’d like to take a moment to also mention, and thank, my friend Lexxie for agreeing to my request to participate in this interview with Donna Cummings by adding some questions of her own. The reason? It’s always nice to keep things fresh and what better way than to see what another might have to ask. Add that to the fact that Lexxie also is a big fan. So, I knew she wouldn’t ask your run of the mill questions.
Do you have your coffee Donna?
Then let's get started!
Lexxie: What are the four things you NEED to have next to you when you are writing? Apart from coffee!
Coffee takes up the first two spots on the list! As for what else I need when I'm writing, the only necessities are peace and quiet, and I'm lucky that I have that readily available. I probably need more discipline, because I get too easily distracted by Twitter. But, in one case, being on Twitter to goof off, uh, I mean "research" actually worked out in my favor, since a conversation there with other writers led to a book series that we sold to Samhain!
Barb: How do you cope emotionally with reviewers who seemed to have missed the point of your story(s) completely?
I've been really lucky because I haven't really had reviewers like that. In fact, I've learned so much about my own characters from what reviewers have said about them! There have been a few readers who don't connect to a story I've written, and I feel bad that I've disappointed them. Obviously they had certain expectations, which made them select the book in the first place, but somehow I didn't deliver the experience they were hoping for, and I wish I had.
For example, several readers have said my contemporary novella, Summer Lovin', is too short, and some have said they wished there was a sequel. So now my brain is plotting a sequel, or two, which I hadn't planned to do originally, and it's because of reviewers' comments.
Lexxie: What is the most difficult to write, a sensual scene or a heated discussion between two characters?
A heated discussion is definitely harder! I hate for my characters to be in conflict with each other, which of course they have to be, or there's no story. If they had their way they'd be getting smexy with each other all the time. LOL Which is probably another reason it's good for them to have conflicts -- so they'll stay out of bed!
Barb: How do you know when writing a scene that it has produced the desired or intended result, sexually and otherwise?
I think it's when I'm reading a scene and I forget that I'm the one who wrote it! The other day I was looking for an excerpt for a blog post, and the next thing I knew, I'd read a couple chapters, because I'd gotten caught up in the story and forgot what I was supposed to be doing. I hope that's how it works for readers too.
Lexxie: What's the strangest scene you've written for one of your stories? Did you keep it in the final version?
I don’t know if it's the strangest scene, but my villain in LordMidnight is addicted to opium, and I had to research how he would consume it. I spent time on several websites, looking at all the paraphernalia from the Regency time period, learning how he would smoke it, and the effects it would cause. In fact, discovering that it could cause impotence was one of those "ohmygod, this is too freakin' awesome" moments, since it worked perfectly for the plot I already had in place.
Another fun scene was in I Do. . .or Die, when the heroine goes to a shooting range to learn how to shoot a gun. I had never handled a gun before, so I went to a shooting range to learn what the heroine would learn. It was a great experience, giving me details the heroine could use (and comment on). I'm hoping for an upcoming book that I can learn to drive a racecar!
Barb: What do you draw on as your muse to help when you run into trouble writing a scene?
I call my muse Endora, just like the disdainful mother-in-law in the TV show Bewitched. She's always disappearing in a puff of smoke, or making derisive comments, so it's a challenge to work with her. LOL The hardest part about writing sometimes is trying to figure out whether to keep pushing onward when you hit a troublesome part, or to let go and do something else for a while. I hate doing housework, but I have to admit, the answer to a difficult scene often appears to me while I’m washing dishes, not even thinking about writing.
Lexxie: Do you still have the first story you wrote?
The very first story was something in grade school, so that's probably lost to time. Which is a good thing! But the very first book I wrote, a traditional Regency called At First Blush, still exists on my hard drive. I don't know that I can ever make it publishable, but it showed me that I could actually finish a book, and then start writing another one, and then another. So I'll always view it with fondness.
Barb: When you complete your novels do you breathe a sigh of relief, or do you feel sad the experience has ended?
When I finish, it's actually a blend of euphoria and amazement that the story didn't kill me off! I love finishing the first draft of a story, and that's when I'm floating around, with a big goofy grin on my face. When I'm finished revising a story, I'm convinced it's a complete hodgepodge of random nonsensical words, and I want to toss the laptop under a moving car, only I'm so exhausted, I don't have the strength to do it. LOL Also, by then I have characters for another story tapping me on the shoulder, reminding me it's their turn, so I don't have a chance to be too sad.
Lexxie: Where is the best place to go to if you're in need of inspiration?
Starbucks! When I'm writing, I spend a lot of time staring out the window, so I like looking at trees and the squirrels scurrying around. But sometimes the muse needs a change of venue, so we'll go hang out at Starbucks and watch humans in their natural habitat. Even though it's the complete opposite of the peace and quiet I need, somehow I can write there. Maybe because the air is saturated with caffeine! Of course, I'd love to time travel to London, circa 1810, and get inspired there. It'll happen one of these days, right?
Barb: What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?
Oooh, maybe we should ask a sane writer! Actually I think "sane writer" is a bit of an oxymoron. We make things up out of nothing, characters that don't really exist talk to us all the time, we constantly doubt and second-guess ourselves. It's not really what sane people do. LOL
I do think it's important to replenish and rejuvenate and do everything possible to keep the creative spark alive. That includes reading other writer's books, chatting with writers who understand the craziness of this kind of work, being kind to ourselves and rewarding ourselves for working when we'd rather do other stuff. It also helps to re-read the nice things people say about our books.
Barb: Your ability to draw the reader into turbulent moments is touched also by your aptitude to bring in humor at the most needed times. Are these planned or just your own wicked sense of irony coming through?
Thanks--I appreciate you saying that. The humor really just shows up on its own! I'm really fortunate that I have clever characters who say hilarious things. I love humor in stories, because it can help people deflect tension, or to cope with emotional turmoil. I also believe it's a great way for heroes and heroines to let down their defenses long enough to fall in love with each other. So I love to watch them banter and tease and react with humorous exchanges. I can't tell you how many times I've laughed out loud because of the surprises they spring on me.
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I always like to end interviews with a question “Just for Fun”. And Donna this is the question I choose for you.
“Just For Fun”
Q. Biggest turnoff in the opposite sex?
REMEMBER DETAILS… oh dear, I seem to be going off half cocked…oh my did I just write cocked…no no I didn’t mean…Damn! Let me try this again. What I was trying to say any details, including those having to do pertaining to the size of cocks would be fine. (I just crack myself up sometimes, LMAO!!!)
Oooh, you're a naughty one! LOL I love so much about men, but I was just mentioning to a friend the other day how I cannot stand how they SPIT. Ack! It's awful and horrible and I'm making myself woozy just thinking about it. And I probably made everyone else feel the same way. Sorry! Let's think happy thoughts. Like how wonderful they are when they're. . .doing everything else.
Even looking for a humorous picture I came across some, oh gosh just thinking of them is making me nauseous. Need those happy thoughts...come on happy thoughts!!
"Like how wonderful they are when they're...
doing something else".
Ummm? Sorry got a bit distracted for a moment...
Thank you again, Donna for this opportunity to interview you. And I’d also like to say thank you to Lexxie for your great questions and help with this interview today!! I hope both of you had fun.
I would also like to thank those who stop by. Hopefully you enjoyed this interview too!!
Donna, Linda and I would love to hear from you. So don’t be shy, leave a comment and say Hi!!
Donna Cummings can usually be found on Twitter (@BookEmDonna), talking about writing, and coffee. Facebook and Goodreads. Or can also find blogging at Heroes and Heartbreakers.
Here is the link to her website http://www.allaboutthewriting.com/
Intro written by Barb M.
Interview questions by Barb & Lexxie.